Steelers Like The Continued Evolution Of Rookie LB Vince Williams

A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping rookie linebacker Vince Williams would start to separate himself from Kion Wilson at the buck inside linebacker position and according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday, that separation has now taken place.

“He’s been solid not only in performance, but in communication,” said Tomlin about Williams. “I like some of things that he’s done. Obviously, he’s a young player and is one that’s going to grow with reps. We look forward to him doing that and he needs to do it, and do it in a hurry. But arrow pointed up in terms of his performance and the intangible things that he’s brought to the position thus far.”

Williams made his first start of the 2013 season against the Minnesota Vikings in week four while Wilson failed to play a snap on defense for the first time all season. Now that Wilson has a hamstring injury, he will be lucky to see any playing time moving forward even though Tomlin didn’t rule it out during his press conference.

Tomlin’s praise of Williams did not end with his press conference, either, as he also talked highly of the Florida State product during his weekly interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio shortly thereafter.

“We like the continued evolution of Vince Williams and the role that he’s playing at inside linebacker,” said Tomlin. “It’s been several weeks now, there. He’s getting comfortable not only playing, but communicating. I think all of those things have been positives and comfortable for us from a staff standpoint.”

According to the stats the Steelers keep, Williams is fourth on the team in tackles with 22. He has missed three tackles so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus, who graded his week four play against the run as way below the line.

The Steelers were certainly hoping they could ease Williams into the defense this year, but after losing Larry Foote for the season in the opener, they had no choice but to throw Williams into the fire. The experience that he will gain this season is invaluable, but he is sure to have more uneven play moving forward through his rookie season as a result.

  • Xclewsive

    I like Williams a lot but he’s really similar in his style of play to Timmons. Both have a tough time playing through traffic and neither are instinctive/heady players. The reason I believe the injury to Spence hurts the Steelers moving forward.

  • Dr. Doom

    What did we really expect there wasn’t anyone available who is serviceable. They just have to ride out the rest of the season with him. Right now I would say he looks like a backup, but what do you expect from a 6th round pick.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Phew… we must have a low expectation and standards now. I watched the game tape, four times Vikings ran I-formation (the formation’s kryponite is supposed to be a classic thumper, vice versa Vince Williams) and James Felton pancaked Vince Williams like a bull just ran at him. For four times, Vince Williams found himself on ground, on back. I do understand he is a rookie, still but no way he is a future starter unless we become the Raiders.

    We need a guy like Vince Williams for situational downs albeit goal line or 3 and 1. Beyond that, he’s usefull. Foote’s athleticism always was mediocre/bad now but he was very instinctive (V. Williams is NOT…) and doesn’t get lost on passing downs… plus last season we cuddled and hid Foote’s weaknesses but now that we have more holes on defense like a swiss cheese, we can’t hide everybody’s weaknesses.


  • T R

    Just don’t see what everyone likes about Williams. The middle of the defense was softer than I’ve ever seen. Maybe they should play Wilson more than 4 qtrs to see what happens. I understand Williams is a rookie.

  • sean mcmartin

    I’m wondering about the guys they cut like Mcfadden and Sylvester.
    They made mistakes keeping guys like redman and whimper and adams..
    This season seems like one huge mistake by the Steelers.

  • Eric

    X, Williams is 25+ lbs heavier than both Spence and and Timmons. As long as he can cover backs coming out of the backfield, I think he contributes more than a non-injured Spence would.

  • Dr. Doom

    Wilson is a career special teams player, just Keyarin Fox II.

  • Intropy

    Adams? Yeah he’s looked awful at LT this year, but he looked fairly decent in limited time last season at RT. If you have a second round pick who fell to that position due to off-field issues, who hasn’t repeated those off-field issues for you, and who has played decently in the time he saw the field, it’s really hard to say keeping him was a mistake.

  • Xclewsive

    Spence is a lot like Farrior more instinctive than physical. Spences ability to read and react are what attracted the Steelers to draft him. Farrior played buck at 228-235 lbs

  • Jeff

    Remember that Spence has never played a down in the NFL. He has been nothing but a possible ‘feel good story’ of coming back from a what was initally thought a career ending injury. That’s great and takes a heck of a lot of resilience in itself, but we don’t really know what impact his injury had at this point.

  • Mike Carroll

    Sounds about right to me. But, I’m someone who has never liked Timmons that much as a football player. He’s more of an athlete that looks to make big hits, but does not show consistency in his play.

  • MC

    I’ve been high on Williams since steelers drafted him but people have to understand that he is going to have games where he looks lost and makes a lot of mistakes. I’m baffled when I see fans screaming for his head after a game like the one against the Vikings.

    Consider the facts, he’s a rookie, he’s a SIXTH round pick, he played against the best RB in the world and he’s in one of the most important/demanding positions on the defense.

    Off course he’s gonna look horrible here and there but they need to stick with him if he’s going to evolve as a good player.

    I think some people expect a first round veteran like play out of a sixth round rookie at times…

  • AndyR34

    Amen! Seems as if people here expect All-Pro play from everyone. Rookies are rookies…most folks on here were clamoring…screaming, in fact…to play all of the rookies: Shark…Jones…Williams…Wheaton, etc. Even some of the UDFA’s! Well…we have a bunch playing…and a bunch of new folks, too…McClendon…Allen…and now they are screaming because they don’t look as good as the guys they replaced! That’s why I’m glad these ‘experts’ don’t work in our FO.

  • charles

    And please stop forgetting that we are always short three players on D hecause LeBeau has the front 3 holding their blocks.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Dude, you hit that out of the park. Timmons and Williams can’t get off blocks or get thru traffic and seem to be a second behind the play because they aren’t instinctive players. I will make it simple for you. Neither of them are playmakers. Can’t get sacks, don’t create fumbles, rarely intercepts passes. Are they good players? Yes. For those position, we need great. Its why no one outside of the Burgh even know Timmons. No wonder they are willing to save a spot for Spence.

  • David N

    Vince is my nephew.. I’ve seen and heard it all. The same folks that say he will fail now were the same folks that said he couldn’t make the team… said he wouldn’t start… How many times will you be wrong? Well… each time you say he can’t and won’t, will and did… That’s all I’ve gotta say about that!

  • Arthur Branch

    We play a 3-4 the lineman are supposed to keep the blockers off the inside linebackers. The down lineman have not been drawing double teams this year.

  • Xclewsive

    That’s not true anymore with the departure of Casey Hampton. McLendon isn’t forcing double teams which is why Timmons now has to shed more blocks and play through traffic. I don’t agree that Timmons isn’t a playmaker because that’s the further thing from the truth. But like Woodley, Timmons starts off the year really slow and without the brains to his brawn out he’s struggle to make a impact. Williams is a rookie and still can get better with more playing time. He’s going to have his issues, but he will continue to show up.